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Stele Ely, 52, created EarthE under the premise that friends need to be challenging friends to be ‘eco-brave’. EarthE celebrates individual choices that help save the planet.
Wearing a white cowboy hat, rainbow colored bracelets and an EarthE T-shirt, Ely canvasses the CU campus with his friend, 22-year-old Gabriel Moss, spreading a new ‘language’ to reward environmentally friendly actions.
Though she recycles everyday, Rosie Mastache, nicknamed Recycling Rosie by her friends, is not usually thanked for her efforts to help the environment. However, Mastache, a film studies major at CU, was given an EarthE money from Ely, which she can use as a coupon at many local Boulder stores, when she talked to him about how she recycles.
“It felt really good to be rewarded for helping the environment,” Mastache said. “I think it would be a good idea for people to reward each other for the little things they do to help the planet.”
EarthE volunteers have been promoting their environmental reward system at farmer’s markets, campus and other events around Boulder, catching the interest of the community. The EarthE Web site has about 80-120 hits a day and is growing.
“Peer pressure, peer acknowledgement, positive reinforcement and most of all, asking friends to take a stand for the environment, is the only way we are going to get people to change the way they think and walk the extra couple of feet to the recycle bins,” Ely said.
EarthE provides a way for friends to support friends by giving a little bit of acknowledgement, a thank you, for supporting the environment.
The EarthE program has a few different forms, including: EarthE money, EarthE handshake, EarthE kiss, EarthE credit, EarthE bracelet, EarthE challenge, EarthE ECOLotto and EarthE award.
EarthE money can be printed off the organization’s Web site and given to anyone involved in environmentally friendly actions. From picking up litter on the street, to using energy efficient light bulbs, to reusing grocery bags, to riding a bike instead of driving to work, pro-environmental actions of any shape and size can be rewarded and redeemed for discounts at participating businesses.
Locally Abo’s Pizza, Burnt Toast, The Fitter, Red Fish Brewhouse and Snarfs are just a few of the 30 Boulder businesses offering EarthE Credits. Participating businesses will usually have a ‘Get EarthE’ sign posted for customers to see, but a complete list is available at EarthE.org.
“The EarthE mission is to create powerful ways for people-and businesses-to challenge and reward others for protecting our priceless biosphere,” according to the Web site EarthE.org.
The EarthE Kiss is a circle drawn with hands or arms symbolizing the Earth and then a kiss is blown through the imagined circle.
Ely said he thinks EarthE kisses might encourage guys to recycle for a ‘kiss’ from girls watching.
“It’s out of the norm for society to thank each other and even embarrass ourselves for the planet,” Ely said after having given a group of students EarthE kisses.
As he parks his bike outside Norlin Library, Max Lichtenstein, a sophomore physics major at CU, was awarded an EarthE money for riding his bike instead of driving.
“This is awesome,” Lichtenstein said. “Awarding people who ride their bikes instead of driving is a great idea.”
Ely says his goal is for all retail businesses in the U.S. to participate in EarthE credit by 2009.
“We need to be brave enough to acknowledge and thank other people for the good they are doing for the environment,” Ely said.